Thoughts on ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency Area

It seems every time I review the technology competency area, one of the newest areas in the ACPA/NASPA Professional Areas for Student Affairs Educators, I develop a greater appreciation of the efforts and thoughts that went into defining the competency and the outcomes. As an advocate for effective use of technology for student development, learning, and success, I have high hopes that the technology competency area will have significant impact in shaping how we, as student affairs educators, will adopt, utilize, and assess/evaluate technology within student affairs now and in the future. At the same time, I have this sense of worry that while the technology competency area finally exists, we actually don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want them to be just words on some document that folks will look at once and forget they even exist. In a way, it’s ironic, maybe this isn’t the right word, that while technology is an essential part of student affairs, it’s still being treated like an add-on responsibility and qualification. Just recently, I reviewed several job posting for Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) positions on higheredjobs.com and found that only 1 out of the 21 job postings I reviewed even had the word “technology” in the responsibilities and qualifications sections.

While reviewing the technology competency area and the outcomes once again this evening, some thoughts and questions came to mind as to how we can make effective use of the technology competency as listed below.

  • Development of the different components of the technology competency requires continual learning and application. Training alone is not enough. Student affairs professionals must have the opportunities to apply and develop the competency in our daily work.
  • No single person has all the skills and knowledge of all components of the competency (theories, technology, practice) so partnership with campus colleagues (scholars, practitioners, IT professionals) must happen for professional development and collaboration opportunities to develop the outcomes.
  • Senior Student Affairs Administrators (SSAOs) must embrace and promote the ideologies and concepts behind the technology competency and therefore, they must commit resources for staff and their organization to develop the competency. They themselves need to model effective use of technology.
  • Stop talking about the competency and start practicing the outcomes.

Questions:

  • How do as we as a profession in general, and at the national and campus levels effectively promote the technology competency?
  • How do we assess and evaluate the level of technology competency? What common tools would be required to do this? How do we perform formative and summative assessments?
  • How do we promote the technology competency and show relevance to daily work?
  • How can we integrate the technology competency in the daily work of student affairs professionals so they’re not just additional things to learn?
  • Who will be the leaders/educators promoting these competencies and how will they themselves gain the skills/knowledge to be able to teach these competencies? Are their professors at SAHE graduate programs who have these skills/knowledge/background? Are technology courses even part of core courses in SAHE graduate programs?

What are your thoughts on the ideas and questions I posed above? How about the technology competency in general? What are you doing personally to develop the outcomes for the technology competency?

One thought on “Thoughts on ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency Area

  1. Lisa Endersby

    This is a great, timely post my friend. I especially resonated with your comment that no one professional will have all of the skills and knowledge to be proficient (or even familiar) with all of the competencies. I am hopeful that this new Technology competency, along with all of the revised competencies, will serve not as a checklist but rather as a guide and inspiration for professional development and the overall advancement of the field. Having a Technology competency at all helps to demonstrate the importance of learning and growing in this field, and helps to lay a path beyond the usual ‘get online or get left behind’ mantra. Technology, much like anything we use in this field, shouldn’t be scary or made to be a shameful disadvantage or missing piece. We can all get there, but only if we learn together.

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